Judge on alleged ‘inappropriate’ touching by Lucido: ‘If I don’t speak up, how is anything going to change?’

Judge Lisa McCormick (left) and Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido (right)
Updated, 6:26 p.m., 3/23/21 with comments from Lucido

Ingham County Judge Lisa McCormick said in an interview with the Advance this month that then-state Sen. Peter Lucido (R-Shelby Twp.) in 2019 inappropriately touched her during a formal meeting. 

Lucido last year stepped down from the Legislature after winning his race for Macomb County prosecutor.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appointed McCormick, a former prosecutor, as director of the Michigan Office of Children’s Ombudsman. Because the appointment was subject to approval from the state Senate as part of the advice and consent process, McCormick said she met with Lucido, who chaired that committee, in late January or early February in his Senate office in the Dykema building. McCormick said she and Lucido each had a staffer present.

As the meeting ended, McCormick said that Lucido gave her an inappropriate “big bear hug, a tight hug,” as she described it, that made her feel “uncomfortable.”

“I had never met him before this meeting,” McCormick told the Advance in a March 11 interview. “I had no prior contact or communication with him. If I were a man, he would have never done that. … I wanted to leave his office as quickly as possible.”

Lucido did not return requests for comment before the story was published. On Tuesday afternoon, after several outlets reported on the alleged incident, Lucido issued a lengthy written statement attacking the Advance and Whitmer and calling McCormick’s allegation “baseless” and “completely false.”

“I never had an interaction with Ms. McCormick that was even remotely close to what she now alleges took place two years ago,” he said.

Lucido yanked from key Senate post after sexual harassment probe kicked off by Donahue’s story

McCormick is now the fourth woman to publicly accuse Lucido of being inappropriate with them. 

Advance reporter Allison Donahue was the first, writing a first-person essay in January 2020 in which she detailed Lucido’s sexist comments toward her. Among his many statements, Lucido told Donahue that a group of schoolboys touring the Capitol could “have a lot of fun” with her. State Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) and Melissa Osborn of the Michigan Credit Union League also said Lucido sexually harassed them.

In a Jan. 15, 2020 tweet, Lucido apologized for the “misunderstanding” and “offending” Donahue, but he went on to change his story several times in media interviews. In March 2020, he claimed in a statement that he hadn’t “sexually harassed anyone.”

The story made national and international news. Whitmer called Donahue “incredibly brave” for coming forward about Lucido and she addressed the issue of workplace harassment in her 2020 State of the State address.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) and Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint) called for a Senate Business Office investigation into Lucido. A report issued in March 2020 concluded that Lucido engaged in “inappropriate workplace behavior” and that Donahue, Osborn and McMorrow were “credible” in their allegations. The office conducted a total of 35 interviews with 25 individuals to reach its conclusion.

“The investigation concluded that Sen. Lucido’s conduct demonstrates an unfortunate pattern of behavior that requires little to no interpretation to be understood as inappropriate workplace behavior,” the report read. 

I tried to interview Sen. Peter Lucido. He told me a group of schoolboys ‘could have a lot of fun’ with me.

As a result, Shirkey removed Lucido from chairing the Advice and Consent Committee — the role he had while meeting with McCormick in 2019 — and ordered him to participate in additional workplace training.

When McCormick was asked if she thought that Lucido was trying to intimidate her, given his role as committee chair, she answered, “It was not normal.”

“I can’t speak to what his intent was,” she said. “I had no reaction. I was shocked that he would do that in the position that he was in.”

“He had a tremendous amount of power,” she added. “It caught me off-guard. I was shocked by it because I had no previous relationship with him, or knew him in any way. I’d never practiced in Macomb County where he’s from, so I did not know him.”

McCormick has more than 20 years of experience as an assistant Ingham County prosecutor. Whitmer appointed her to the Ingham County Circuit Court bench in 2020 to fill a vacancy created by Judge Laura Baird’s retirement. McCormick earned a law degree from Western Michigan University Cooley Law School and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh. 

When asked whether Lucido should resign as Macomb County prosecutor, McCormick said that she does not know “enough about [Prosecutor] Lucido to make that statement.”

A Senate probe found Lucido sexually harassed women. The Republican falsely claims he was exonerated.  

“I just know what happened to me, and I just know the power that position has and that concerns me,” McCormick said. 

“As a prosecutor, you have tremendous power,” she added. “You make decisions that sometimes deprive people of their liberties and so the concern would be that power.” 

When asked why she is sharing the account two years later, McCormick answered, “I didn’t make any complaint when it happened because my future, and my appointment, was in his hands and in the committee’s hands. … But I’m going to speak the truth and I’m not looking for the media attention … because if I don’t speak up then how is anything ever going to change? And how is it going to be better for my daughter?”

McCormick says it is important that she share her story about Lucido and that her experience with him “should not happen in the workplace.”  

“I was only there to talk about my qualifications,” McCormick said. “And there was absolutely no reason for him to hug me like that.”

Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.